Posted by Will Brinson
It's beginning to seem likely -- or at least reports make it seem likely -- that players with four years of service time who were previously restricted free agents (RFAs) will, if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, become unrestricted free agents (UFAs).
If this happens, there will be an additional 500 or so people added to a free-agent class that will suddenly be bursting with talent. Unless the owners are able to convince the players to give them several "right-of-first-refusal" options on UFAs.
Which is what they're trying to do, according to Chris Mortensen, who told Howard Balzer of 101 ESPN Radio in St. Louis that "owners are asking that teams be able to have three or four right-of-first-refusals this year on UFAs."
What this would mean is that while guys like DeAngelo Williams of the Panthers would be able to negotiate with other teams, their original teams would have the right to match the highest offer those players got on the open market.
But it would also let teams determine the market ... without actually having to make an offer to their players.
Such speculation is probably fruitless, however, because there's little chance that the players would agree to creating these de facto franchise tags that might limit a large number of players' ability to cash in on their unrestricted free agent status.
Plus, if owners didn't see a reversion to free agency rules that existed before 2010 -- when a new CBA was negotiated -- happening from the get-go, it's hard to fathom what they were expecting to see.
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